Honors Academic Decathlon

    Kerri.Mathew@husd.org (480).279.7358

    Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:15-3:15


    Teacher Introduction: I am excited to be beginning my 15th year as a classroom teacher and my 8th year at Higley High I have been involved with Academic Decathlon since my first year teaching, and when I came to Higley High, I was excited to bring “AcDec” to HHS.  What I love most about AcDec is that it brings together students of all ages and grade ranges and creates an atmosphere of academic curiosity, collaboration, and community. We joke that “AcDec is life” because once you learn to consider how different ideas and disciplines interact, you will constantly be seeing things that relate to what you’ve learned in AcDec. As a teacher, it is my goal to help you see how relevant all areas of study are to the “real” world and to provide a comfortable space where you can explore new ideas creatively and collaboratively (and competitively).

    Course Description Academic Decathlon is a nationwide academic competition that fosters academic excellence in high schools.  This honors elective course is open to all students regardless of GPA or grade level. The goal of the course is to prepare for competition against other schools, and all students will be required to compete at least once throughout the school year (most likely in November). This honors-level course carries a weighted grade; as such, the material will be challenging and expectations will be high. Students will be required to work well independently as well as in groups.

    The U.S. Academic Decathlon® is excited to announce that the overall curricular theme for 2019–2020 will be In Sickness and in Health: An Exploration of Illness and Wellness. Following is some general information on the topics in each of the subject areas.

    • SCIENCE: The science topic will be an introduction to the biology of cancer.
    • LITERATURE: The literature curriculum will include critical reading, one long work of literature, and selected shorter works. The long work of literature will be the 1818 version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
    • ART: The art curriculum will include a section on art fundamentals and will largely focus on an exploration of illness and wellness in art.
    • MUSIC: The music curriculum will introduce students to various musical works from across the centuries that will allow them to examine the role of mortality in Western art music.
    • SOCIAL SCIENCE: The social science curriculum will introduce students to the history of healthcare.
    • ECONOMICS: The economics curriculum will cover fundamental economic concepts, microeconomics, and macroeconomics and will also include a thematic section on health economics.
    • MATHEMATICS: The mathematics curriculum will cover algebra and trigonometry.

     Required Dress for Competitions

    Students will need one professional dress outfit for the speech and interview competitions. This outfit should be modest, conservative in color, and neat. 


                   Class Expectations and Rules

    1. Grading Policy:
    • Grade categories are:
      • Assessments 60%
      • Practice and classwork 10%
      • 10% for team collegiality
      • Final Exam 20%
    • Semester grades will be rounded up to a higher letter grade only in the case that the final percentage is within .5% of higher letter grade.
    • Zeroes will be entered for assignments that are not submitted; thus, missing work will significantly impact a student’s grade.
    • Late work may be submitted no more than one week after the due date and will be penalized 20% of the earned grade.
    • At least two grades per week will be entered.
    • Parents and students can check grades online through ParentVue/Student Vue.

    School and Classroom Policy *Any and all HUSD policies outlined in the code of conduct will be honored and enforced.


    Classroom Time:

    School policy is that students may not leave the classroom during the first and last ten minutes of the class period. Students are expected to be in class during the entire class period except in case of an emergency. Students who need to leave to see the nurse, use the restroom, run an errand, etc…must ask for and receive permission before they leave, sign out on the classroom log, and return as quickly as possible. Disciplinary action will be taken for students who abuse their time out of the classroom.

    Bathroom Use:

    Students should make every effort to use the restroom during passing periods or at lunch.  Students should ask for permission (students will rarely be given permission to leave in the first or last ten minutes of the class period), obtain the teacher’s signature, sign out on the log in the classroom, and sign back in when they return. Students are to use the water fountains and restrooms that are closest to the classroom in the 200 building; they are NOT to leave the building for any reasons or go anywhere other than where they have been given permission to go.

    Tardy Policy

    All students are expected to report to class on time every day.  Having “checked in” or dropped off a backpack in the classroom does not mean the student is on time for class. Students who are not in the classroom when the bell rings will be marked tardy.

    1st tardy is a reminder

    2nd tardy is a phone call home

    3rd tardy is ASD (after school detention) with the classroom teacher

    4th tardy is an office referral


    • If a student is absent with an excused absence though the attendance office they will have as many days absent to make up the work without penalty.
      • It is the student’s responsibility to find out what he or she missed due to absence and to make arrangements to make up the work. Resources for finding out what was missed include CANVAS, information written on the board, other students, and the teacher by email or in person.
    • If a student is absent and it is unexcused, a penalty up to and including no credit for the work missed may be enforced.  
    • It is to the teacher’s discretion to accept any late work that is turned in after a due date.
    • Projects due on the date of an absence are still due, even if the student is absent from class. Make-up time does not apply to work assigned prior to the absence. Arrangements should be made to ensure the work is submitted on time. Consideration may be given for extenuating circumstances. (Extenuating circumstances do not include running out of printer ink, suddenly discovering a faulty printer, having computer issues, the Internet going down at your home, staying up until two in the morning only to have your computer crash, etc.).

     Disciplinary Action:

    In the case of a behavioral or academic concern, the following steps will be taken:

    1. Conference with student (possible parent communication)
    2. Parent communication
    3. Assign After School Detention
    4. Parent conference (may involve counselor/administrator)
    5. Referral to administration

    Classroom Environment:

    To maintain cleanliness and an academic environment, the following district rules will be enforced in my classroom:

    • Academic Decathlon is a team competition. Students will be required to work positively and productively independently and with their peers. Students will often work in groups not of one’s choosing. Students will be expected to contribute to a collegial classroom environment, and behaviors and attitudes that are detrimental the environment will be handled as disciplinary issues and will impact a student’s grade. These behaviors include but are not limited to:
      • Talking over each other, sidebar conversations, interrupting, heckling, or otherwise disrespecting each other.
      • Listening to music, checking the cell phone, watching videos, or otherwise using media to avoid or ignore what is happening in the classroom or what one is supposed to be working on at a given time.
      • Refusing to participate in an activity.
      • Refusing to work with one’s peers in a positive manner.
      • Deliberately undermining or derailing classroom work.
      • Using the restroom, nurse’s office, water fountain, etc., in order to avoid being in the classroom.
    • Absolutely no food or drink, except for clear water, allowed in the classroom, and students are not allowed to chew gum or candy in the classroom.
    • All students will be asked to remove hats while in the classroom.
    • Cell phones are to be turned off and put away unless students are asked to use them for educational purposes.


    All individuals have a right to an educational environment free from bias, prejudice and bigotry. As members of the Higley High School educational community, students are expected to refrain from participating in acts of harassment that are designed to demean another student’s race, gender, ethnicity, religious preference, disability or sexual orientation.

    Assignment Expectations:

    • MLA format must be used for all work. Include the following information in the top left corner of each assignment.

    Your Name

    Ms. Mathew

    English – Class Period

    Day Month Year

    • All final writing assignments must be typed unless otherwise specified.
    • Papers should be clean, undamaged, and unfolded. Fuzzy notebook edges should be removed.
    • Stapled pages should be stapled once, along the left-hand edge of the page.
    • Write in complete sentences, always. Grammar and spelling matter, always.
    • Complete all assignments in full. Partial work will not necessarily receive partial credit.
    • Maintain academic honesty at all times. Plagiarized assignments will earn a zero.

    Computer and Internet Requirements:

    Assignments for this course will require computer, Internet, and printer access.  The textbook and College Board materials are all online, and I use CANVAS to post assignments, videos, and other classroom resources. Students will have to prepare documents, presentations, and utilize many online resources. The HHS Media Center and school computer labs are available for students before and after school. Computer, Internet, or printer issues are not generally accepted as excuses for failure to submit work or produce it according to the requirements of the assignment.